Local Law Enforcement and Faith Leaders Visit Midland Child Care Center with U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar
Midland County sheriff and pastor of Midland church discussed how high-quality early childhood programs support strong families and help prevent future crime
Local law enforcement and faith leaders joined U.S. Representative John Moolenaar (R-MI 4th District) today at the Michigan Child Care Centers, Inc. (Kinder Kare) in Midland to highlight the importance of programs that help young children succeed in education, work, and life, including high-quality child care. Midland County Sheriff and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids member Scott Stephenson and Pastor Don Milton of New Life Vineyard Church and Shepherding the Next Generation member thanked Congressman Moolenaar for supporting federal funding for early childhood and afterschool programs in the U.S. House of Representatives and encouraged him to continue to prioritize these investments.
“High-quality child care and early learning programs can enhance the work that parents do by laying a foundation for future educational and life success,” said Pastor Milton. “We’re fortunate here in Michigan because we have a strong pre-K program that reaches so many children – over 38,000, representing just over half of eligible four-year-olds – and has proven results.”
Pastor Milton cited a study of Michigan’s Great Start Readiness Program that showed participants were held back a grade 51 percent less often than non-participants, contributing to a 35 percent increase in high-school graduation.
Sheriff Stephenson added that Michigan spends about $2 billion on corrections every year and that high-quality pre-K programs can have a net return of over $34,000 per child served. He noted that one of the key reasons for that savings is the money that would have otherwise been spent on incarceration or the criminal justice system.
“When kids get the help they need when they’re young, it makes a big difference for public safety and public dollars down the line,” said Sheriff Stephenson. “That’s why adequately funding these programs is so important to law enforcement leaders like me.”
They also discussed how afterschool programs help keep kids off the street and in safe, supervised environments that provide greater opportunities for academic enrichment and learning life skills.
“Thankfully, Congressman Moolenaar has been a strong supporter of funding for quality afterschool programs,” said Sheriff Stephenson. “I’m grateful for that support, just as I’m grateful that the Congressman has likewise supported early childhood education and care programs.”
Sheriff Stephenson cited Congressman Moolenaar’s vote in support of the Omnibus Appropriations bill earlier this year that increased funding for Head Start and the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, and included a historic increase in funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant that provided Michigan with an additional $63 million in federal discretionary child-care funding (from $84 million in fiscal 2017 to over $147 million in fiscal 2018).
“I think we should all follow Congressman Moolenaar’s example and make a point of understanding and emphasizing the importance of high-quality early childhood and afterschool programs,” said Pastor Milton. “We also hope that Congressman Moolenaar and his colleagues will prioritize these programs long into the future as they continue to consider how best to appropriate federal funding.”
After the press event, Sheriff Stephenson, Pastor Milton, and Congressman Moolenaar read to children at the child care center.